Exclusive: Dino Cazares Details Fear Factory’s Recent Legal Battles
“What’s going to be your headline? ‘Dino Eats Babies for Donations on GoFundMe’?”
Dino Cazares is in a jovial mood when MetalSucks reaches him by phone, referencing a very old MetalSucks running joke – which seems somewhat surprising, given the amount of drama that has surrounded Fear Factory in the past few weeks. “Maybe I’m too accessible,” he muses over the drama that always seems to surround him. “Maybe I’m on social media too much. Maybe I talk to the fans too much. Maybe I’m an open book. I don’t know what it is.”
A quick recap: In 2018, vocalist Burton Seabell said, “Fear Factory has a record done. It’s delivered to the label. We’re just waiting for some legal technicalities [to be sorted out]. And the record’ll be out next year.” A year later, we learned that those “legal technicalities” involved a dispute between Seabell and former members Christian Olde Wolbers and Raymond Herrera, and it became clear that there would be no new Fear Factory album released until that conflict was resolved. Finally, earlier this month, Cazares announced that there would be new Fear Factory music in 2021. Fear Factory then launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise $25,000 in order to complete the album…
…but that very same day, Seabell took to Twitter to assert that “I am not part of, nor am I benefiting, from any GoFundMe Campaign.” He later called the campaign a “scam” intended to raise money not for the band, but “for Dino’s legal bills.” Cazares shot back by assuring fans that none of the money would be used for “anyone’s personal legal fees,” and that all of it would go towards raising the album to a sonic level on par with the band’s past releases, including tracking live drums (instead of the programmed ones on their 2012 album, The Industrialist), re-tracking some parts, and bringing back the production team of Rhys Fulber, Damien Rainaud and Andy Sneap to polish it up. Dino posted a pair of short video clips in recent days that indicate that work is already underway.
So what’s going on? Why the total disconnect between Cazares and Seabell?
Time and again, when we raise the issue, Cazares expresses confusion as to why fans are distraught, pivoting to the subject of how awesome the album will be. But after a while, Cazares admits that, odd though it may sound, he isn’t entirely sure what Seabell’s deal is right now — he has hasn’t spoken to the vocalist in over a year. “I’ve reached out to him but maybe he’s too busy doing Ascension of the Watchers. I’ve heard him make statements saying that he’s not talking about Fear Factory and that he only wants to talk about Ascension of the Watchers. That’s the impression that I’m getting.”
Still, calling himself “Conspiracy Theory Dino” (“I would expect these kinds of comments coming out of Christian’s mouth,” he laughs) the guitarist questions the authorship of the aforementioned social media posts, positing that they may have been written by an assistant or a publicist who has control over Seabell’s social media accounts: “I don’t know if Burton is the kind of guy who lashes out on social media like that. I don’t know him as that kind of guy.”
But what if it was Seabell? “If it is Burt, I believe he’s wrong” that the crowdfunding campaign wouldn’t benefit him, the guitarist states. “I believe he has mistakenly misunderstood what was going on. If it’s not Burt, and it’s one of his people who run his social media, then I believe it was not the best comment to put out there and that’s what helped the confusion.”
But doesn’t the band need Seabell’s input on all the additional recording? Cazares says no, countering that his job has always been to write the music and Seabell’s job has always been to “write the lyrics,” “arrange his vocals,” and work on the album’s conceptual/narrative side — which, according to Cazares, Seabell has already done. In fact, Cazares says, Seabell went so far as to choose a name for the album, and to announce that name, without consulting him: “At that time [in 2018] it was court ordered that we legally could not use the name Fear Factory to solicit any products like merchandising, CDs, touring etc… talking about it in public could potentially cause legal damage, and later it did. It for sure caused confusion with our fans, especially when I didn’t know about the title, art or it even being called Fear Factory.”
But “I’m not mad,” Cazares continues. “As a Fear Factory shareholder, I am able to do what I need to do to make this thing keep running.”
This last statement certainly gets our attention. Fear Factory has shareholders? Having partners in a band’s business entities isn’t unusual, but given there was just a lengthy court battle over this very issue, we have to ask: Who presently has shares in the Fear Factory company besides Cazares?
“Nobody,” he tells us. So Fear Factory LLC or Incorporated or whatever is 100% Cazares? “Correct.” For good measure, he says it again later: “I have all the legal rights to Fear Factory.”
Well, that’s certainly news. How the heck did THAT happen? “Four years of absolute hell,” he teases.
The answer begins with a very important, previously unknown detail: there were not one, but two concurrent lawsuits involving the rights to the band’s name. The first, which we’ve known about since October of 2019, pitted Seabell against former bandmates Christian Olde-Wolbers and Raymond Herrera. The second, which Cazares divulged to us over the phone, pitted those same two former bandmates against the guitarist. Yes, you read that correctly: Olde-Wolbers and Herrera took both Seabell and Cazares to court, and they did it separately.
Cazares explains the nature of the two individual cases and laments what he calls the “enormous” amount of money spent on lawyers. “I eventually beat those two guys,” he proclaims triumphantly, “regardless of what a lot of the ex-members say.”
When asked to elaborate, Cazares says: “I’ve been to two different trials and I beat those guys twice in two separate trials. Going to trial is not cheap. I stuck to my guns and fought them all the way to the end. I did not want to let go of something that I started – the three of us started. I want to say ‘me’ because I’m talking about me. I didn’t want to let go of something I started for just some bullshit. I was going to fight them all the way to the end and that’s what I did.”
“The name became available, and I got it,” he offers coyly of how he ended up with sole ownership of the Fear Factory trademark. “That’s the best way to put it.”
Was there also litigation between you and Burton?
“No, not at all. I know that you’re trying to find something there, but me and Burt legally fighting each other? No, nothing like that.”
It’s not so much that we’re trying to find something, we’re trying to understand how you ended up with 100% control of the band’s name when Burton was in court over that very thing.
“I can’t tell you Burt’s side because this is how I ended up with the name. I can’t tell you that side. I can tell you that it was expensive. That’s all I have to say [laughs].”
Okay, well, you can’t tell us Burton’s side, but maybe you can answer this question: did Burton lose that case against Christian and Raymond or [was there] some kind of settlement paid, and then you reached an agreement with those two [to buy their rights to the band’s name]?
“No, I didn’t have to reach any kind of agreement with Raymond and Christian – not at all.”
You were successful in winning against them, we guess, after they won against Burton. Is that accurate?
“Well, things became available and I just got them. That’s the way that I can put it without talking about Burt’s stuff because you asked me a question about Burt’s stuff. Again, the reason you asked that question is because you know already. You kind of know.”
We don’t, though.
“The question is correct. I just can’t answer about that. It’s Burton’s stuff. Again, it’s out of respect. It’s not that I don’t want to tell you, I just think it’s better that if I want to have any kind of relationship with people that I can’t tell their personal business. The question is right.”
We can only speculate as to what may have transpired behind the scenes that led to Cazares’ 100% ownership of Fear Factory – he won’t even tell us if Seabell was a shareholder in the Fear Factory partnership at any point in the past – but another possibility involves a court win by Seabell followed by a buy-out by Cazares. Regardless of how it came to pass, it’s the new reality, and that leaves us wondering about Dino and Burt’s current relationship, especially in light of everything that’s occurred recently.
For his part, Cazares doesn’t seem worried. “Yes, I am sole owner of the name and trademark, but that doesn’t mean Burton can’t be right there with me, too. It means that we continue and keep working our asses off and making great music for people to hear.” He also emphasizes that this isn’t the first time there’s been a rift between himself and the singer: “Every once in a while this happens. When he was working on [his other band] City of Fire, he disappeared. I’m not saying that in any negative way at all. When he was making the City of Fire record… he gets into those records and he kind of shuts everything else out. We’ve had miscommunications like that before. It’s nothing new.” He goes on to assert that he’d “love to continue in the business of me and Burton together” and that “As far as I know, Burt’s still in the band.” He again turns to defending the improvements he’s currently making on the album, surmising that fans — and Burton — will be happy once they hear it in its final, finished form. “Regardless of all this stress and tension and all this stuff that’s been said in the media, at the end of the day people are going to be fucking happy when they hear this amazing record that Burton is on singing his ass off, and myself and all the team that I’ve had since Genexus – Andy Sneap, Rhys Fulber, and Mike Heller playing drums.” He adds that “all I have is love and respect for the guy,” and that fans will be happy to hear his voice.
But will Fear Factory be able to tour with both Cazares and Seabell given their current relationship? Since Cazares now owns the rights to the name, does that mean Seabell would become a salaried tour employee? “Why can’t it be equal like we’ve had it before? Why can’t it. To me that hasn’t changed.”
So Cazares remains optimistic about Fear Factory’s future. “Mine and Burt’s relationship is not perfect. It’s not perfect, trust me, it’s not perfect at all,” he admits. “But, there’s something about us two that makes great music. I don’t want to change that. I think right now the ball is in Burt’s court with what he’s going to do.”